Timeline

“There was limited knowledge about the Navajo people until the investigations of Washington Matthews, in the 1880s. Later the Franciscan Fathers at the St. Michaels Mission published a wide-ranging study of Indian culture in 1910 in their Ethnologic Dictionary. It was not until the 1920s that university anthropologists, with their rigorous scientific methods, began to intensively investigate the culture of native people.” (Lyon 1989)

1900-1930’s

1900-1930’s

Edgar Lee Hewett, as an ethnologist with the School of American Archeology of the Archeological Institute of America in Santa Fe, met and hired John P. Harrington in 1909. But…

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Edgar Lee Hewett established the department of Anthropology at UNM in 1928-1929. While at UNM, Hewett founded the Museum of Anthropology of the University of New Mexico, which would later…

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In the 1920’s, Gladys Reichard, a renowned anthropologist, begins working on Navajo and doing fieldwork on the Navajo country, viz. 1923. She inherited much of Pliny Earle Goddard (1969-1928) text…

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1930s-1940s

1930s-1940s

In the 1930s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the leadership of Willard Beatty, decided to try teaching Navajo children bilingually. Beatty asked for help from the Smithsonian Institution, which…

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In 1935, Robert Young began to study Navajo as a graduate student at UNM, where he met “a protégé of Gladys Reichard”, Adolph Dodge Bitanny (aka ’Adee Dodge), a grandson…

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In 1937, Robert Young & William Morgan serendipitously met at the Southwest Range and Sheep Breeding Laboratory, near Ft. Wingate; this happenstance was initiated by none other than John P….

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During the 1940’s, Ann Nolan Clark, who worked for the BIA, published a couple children’s books that were translated by Robert Young and J.P. Harrington. This is just one of…

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Harrington, although not known for Navajo, developed the orthography which later became to be known as the “Young and Morgan alphabet”. (Spolsky 1970). This was crucial since between 1940-1957 Y&M…

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During the 1940’s & WWII: “Few Navajos of the period spoke or understood English, with the result that supervisors and others who came in contact with them began to demand…

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1950’s

1950’s

“The Vocabulary of Colloquial Navajo, published in 1950 as a supplement to the Navajo Language, did include a wealth of sentence examples for each verb entry, and it was the…

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1960’s

1960’s

In 1968-69, the UNM linguistics department ‘unofficially’ is established as an amorphous, interdisciplinary program sponsored by various departments and associates: “[A UNM administrative report] led directly to the hiring in…

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“Another vital feature of the Department of [Linguistics’ early history (i.e. when it was still a Program)] is the variety of major projects sponsored. Chief among these projects was the…

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1970’s

The  [Linguistics] Program also sponsored the development of a series of Navajo language courses, which were formally established in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages in 1970. Closely associated…

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“The Linguistics department is approved and formalized in 1973: “John Oller Jr., an enthusiastic and aggressive young applied linguist at UCLA, was hired (with an appointment in Educational Foundations) to…

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Throughout the 1970’s, due to Spolsky’s initiative, Robert Young and William Morgan were hired as visiting lecturers and/or researchers, (UNM Departmental MS): 1971-72: Appointment to staff: Robert Young, as visiting…

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Transition Period (1977-1987)

The Navajo Reading Study project comes to an end in 1977. “Another offshoot of the NRS was the Navajo-English Dictionary Project directed by Robert Young and supported by the National Endowment…

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The “Self-Study Report of the Department of Linguistics” in May 1978 states that their future plans are “our highest priority has been for a Navajo linguist to shore up the…

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The first edition of The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary by Robert Young and William Morgan is published by UNM press in 1980. As Garland Bills noted, this…

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The following year, 1980-81, Roseann Willink comes on as a visiting Instructor of Navajo. She continues to work for the Navajo language Program and teach classes until her retirement in…

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The second edition of The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary by Young and Morgan is published by UNM press in 1987.

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In the academic year of 1988, the Department of Linguistics finally becomes a bona fide entity, through the efforts of professor Alan Hudson and others. The Navajo and Sign Language…

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1990’s

1990’s

While Robert Young continues to be affiliated with UNM, Young and Morgan publish the Analytical Lexicon of Navajo (1992), along with Sally Midgette, who received her doctoral degree from UNM…

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Robert Young and William Morgan Sr. were honored in a public ceremony by the Navajo Nation Council in Window Rock, AZ, on July 17, 1996, at which they were robed…

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In 1998, The Robert W. Young Scholarship Fund for Native American Linguistics was established. With major contributions from Judy and Garland Bills (with matching contributions from BFGoodrich) and from Joan…

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2000’s

2000’s

Through the efforts of Roseann Willink in 2003, the Navajo Language Program establishes an undergraduate minor in Navajo Language studies, in hopes of expanding this to a major.

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In the Fall 2005, NLP celebrates the 35th anniversary in which Robert Young is honored for his contribution to the department of linguistics and the program.

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In 2006, Robert Young is honored with the Linguistic Society of America’s Kenneth L. Hale Award for his work documenting the Navajo language. He is the 2nd recipient of the…

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Another Transitional Period: 2007-2017

Another Transitional Period: 2007-2017

“Recognizing the need to strengthen the Navajo language program and Navajo linguistics, in 2006 Department Chair Sherman Wilcox began the process of proposing expansion of this program with a UNM…

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In the summer of 2008, NLP hosts Navajo Language Academy’s annual Summer Institute, with workshops on Navajo linguistics and language documentation. Dr. Melissa Axelrod, Dr. Melvatha Chee, and UNM students…

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In Spring 2009, Roseann Willink retires from the Navajo Language Program with honors, after being at UNM for 30 something years.

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In 2010, NLP initiated a trial online class for Navajo 101. This class eventually becomes an essential class for the program given the demand for 100 level classes, especially with…

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NLP cohosts the 18th annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium at UNM on May 20-22, 2011.  

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2018-Present

After several years of changes in staff and faculty, NLP hires a permanent position in 2019 for the director/associate professor position. The position is given to Dr. Melvatha Chee, after…

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In April 2020, the Navajo Language Program marked its 50th anniversary. Celebrations are scheduled for the Fall of 2020, due to unforeseen events during the Spring semester.

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